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Michael T. Strickland Honoured with Lifetime Visionary Award at Parnelli Awards
USA – At the 2020 Parnelli Awards, Bandit founder Michael T. Strickland was presented with the Visionary Lifetime Achievement Award for his pioneering work in the entertainment lighting business. The awards, hailed as the Grammy’s of the Live Event Industry, were held during The NAMM Show at the Anaheim Hilton’s Pacific Ballroom to a packed crowd of 750 people.
In a touching tribute to Strickland’s lifetime achievements in founding and growing Bandit Lites, the world’s premier concert lighting company, clients and friends Alice Cooper and Shinedown offered video tributes. Later, Shinedown lead vocalist, Brent Smith, stepped on stage to present the award to him, extolling the virtues of Michael as a person above all else. Smith then stated there was one more person who wanted to say a few words.
Garth Brooks then entered the room to gasps and cheers. No one, including Strickland, knew Garth would be present; it was a complete surprise to all.
The seven-time Entertainer of the Year shared how he came to be a part of the Bandit Lites family, with Strickland believing in his dream of a concert that would rival the biggest rock shows. Thirty-two years later and several world records broken, the two remain close friends and Bandit remains Brooks’ lighting vendor. Brooks sang the praises of Strickland and his commitment and friendship with him. Kinder words could not have been spoken.
“Garth is just that kind of guy,” said Strickland. “He travelled 2,500 miles just to be here for me; what else can you say about him? It means the world to me. I love you Garth and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
In accepting the award, a moved Strickland noted how this honour was one that was not only his, but belonged to the entire Bandit Lites team, calling several to join him on stage.
“This is not about me, but about the Bandit family,” said Strickland. “The 52-year success of Bandit Lites is because of the many great people that are Bandit. We have a huge number of people that have been with Bandit 20, 30 and 40 years. It is those people that make Bandit what it is. Anyone can buy gear but having a world class group of people for their entire career is an anomaly in entertainment. I am humbled that the Bandit family is being honoured in this way. I am truly humbled and stunned by the evening.”
Strickland then challenged the industry to follow Bandit and provide health insurance, retirement plans and paid vacation for all their people. He further stated Bandits commitment to female employees, and noted the industry needs to improve in that area. Further announcements included doubling the size of the Nashville and Charlotte facilities, as well as a new 200’ x 200 x 80’ rehearsal facility in Nashville.
The evening was a celebration of the wonderful journey of Bandit Lites in the past and a focus on the incredible future ahead. There were 30 Bandits in attendance for the celebration, and most were 20 to 40-year team members. Several Bandit clients were at the celebration as well, including Warren Entner of the Grassroots, Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali and the afore mentioned Brent Smith and Garth Brooks. Jimmy Buffet Road Manager and long-time friend Charlie Fernandez was also with the Bandit entourage.
“This is an award and an evening I will cherish forever.” said Strickland. “To be with your closet friends in this moment is simply magical. Thank you Terry Lowe and PLSN for making this happen!”
22nd January 2020
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